Whether or not anybody outside the program expected it, the boys’ soccer team at Sacred Heart of Jesus High School is in the TSSAA Division II-A state semifinals at Spring Fling.
“I’m really proud of everything we’ve accomplished because we compete against schools that are much bigger and have more money and other resources at their disposal to try to compete for championships,” said Knights head coach Chris Harrington. “But we talk every day about how it’s not about what you have but what you make out of what you have.
“That’s what we’ve tried to do as a coaching staff and try to instill in this team.”
With Division II being made of private schools whose soccer teams are mostly club players, Harrington said having two players on his team who play club ball has been a challenge. And it’s not like there’s a lot of athletes to choose from since the school has 80 students total to make it one of the smallest schools in the TSSAA.
“When we’re done playing this week, we most of these guys won’t play soccer again until next season,” Harrington said. “So it’s been a challenge as we’re teaching the game to these fellows every day in practice the small things about the game – even as late as today.”
Harrington admits he’s dealt with frustration with that, but he hasn’t dealt with anything he didn’t expect coming into his first full season as the Knights’ head coach.
“I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been frustrated at times, but I think any coach would be if he said that no matter what level he’s coaching,” Harrington said. “But that’s just part of teaching the game to young people like this.”
But the good part about that is how much every player who plays for the Knights has improved since the beginning of preseason practice.
“I can’t name any one guy who’s improved a lot because they’ve all improved a lot,” Harrington said. “They’ve each improved individually, which means the team has improved also.
“They’ve all worked hard for this because we preach being the best we can be on and off the pitch, and it’s paying off this week with a match in the state semifinals.”
The Knights’ supporters are excited for the team as well.
“Obviously the parents and other supporters are really excited and pulling for us,” Harrington said. “I don’t know how many people expected us to still be playing this week, but we’re glad to have the opportunity.”
Harrington said he expects his team to try to take full advantage of that opportunity.
“I’m excited and ready for it, and I hope they are too,” Harrington said. “I don’t get nervous about this match, and the players shouldn’t either.
“This is the state semifinals. This is an opportunity not a lot of kids get to have, so they should enjoy the experience.”
And what about the opponent from Knoxville Webb on Wednesday?
“They’re obviously a good team that will be hard to control, but we’ve got to do our best to do that,” Harrington said. “We’ve played some quality teams and beaten them to get to this point.
“We’ve got to be ready to do it again and play our style of soccer that helps us succeed as well as we can.”
Brandon Shields, 425-9751